If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.

Erica Jong

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“before”

Te Araroa means “the long pathway” in Maori. Completed in 2011, it’s a 3000 kilometer trail extending from Cape Reinga in the North to Bluff in the south.

It traverses the entire country; beaches, forests, mountains, volcanoes and cities and should likely take me four to five months to finish.

Thus far in my “career” the furthest I walked all at one time was the GR5, 450 miles over the spine of the Alps. While taking on that challenge I wondered if I was made of the right stuff to sustain a thru-hike of not just weeks, but months.

Aside from the logistical nightmare and the risk that I might not be missed at my place of employment, I hadn’t the faintest idea if I possessed the grit, the fortitude and determination, and the sheer pig-headedness to stick with a walk of 1,864 miles.

The Te Araroa means "long pathway" in Maori. Blissful Hiker Alison Young walked it in 2018-19.
The Te Araroa is not a trail or even a “route.” It’s more of an idea.

Over the ensuing years, I decided there’s only one way to find out, and that’s to go and do it. Keeping in mind the fact that I’m not getting any younger and my arthritic toes are continuing to protest, I made the decision to request a leave of absence, and put myself directly on the path of enormous change.

Sure, it was a change in scenery and routine, but also in how my life looked and felt because I hiked alone. Don’t worry. Richard followed my every step through the magic of GPS tracking and shared the final three weeks with me in this beautiful country. 

Thank you to Randy and Kathy McCarty for their generous contribution to the Te Araroa Trust and helping to support my – and many, many other’s – successful and safe journeys.

I hadn’t the faintest idea if I possessed the grit, the fortitude and determination, and the sheer pig-headedness to stick with a walk of 1,864 miles.
Did I possess the grit, fortitude, determination, and the sheer pig-headedness to stick with a walk of 1,864 miles?
My Granite Gear Crown 60 is named Olive Oyl.
Followers named my superbly designed, lightweight but rugged Granite Gear pack, Olive Oyl.
La Sportiva Akyra blend the best of a trail runner with that of a hiking boot.
Breathable, flexible, wicking and lightweight, La Sportiva is running shoe meets hiking boot.
Set up is a snap for my ultralight and rugged tarptent, named the"alicoop" by followers.
My Leki poles keep me upright in 80 mph gusts.
I swear by foldable, bomb-proof Leki trekking poles to keep me upright.
Balega is a Zulu word that means
Balega socks offer ease, agility and the fleet-footedness of a seasoned ultra trail runner.
At only three ounces, the Black Diamond Spot is a great little light with lots of functionality, if you can just remember how to turn it on and off.
The Black Diamond Spot is only 3 ounces with loads of functionality, but I can never remember the steps.
The
In Silent-Film-style, the Blissful Hiker sets the "alicoop" and finally crawls in for a little shut eye.
Does yoga cure all ailments? Probably not, but I feel so good that I believe yoga is a crucial addition to my life as a long distance backpacker.
The 26 strenuous and intense poses are one of the most effective workouts,both energizing and therapeutic.
I love my work as a classical music radio host, but I wanted to see what a long distance thru-hike would do to my body, mind and spirit so asked for a leave.
I love being a DJ, but wanted to experience a thru-hike before it was too late.
Olive Oyl, my Granite Gear pack that carried my home, my life, everything I needed on the Te Araroa.
The Blissful Hiker's packed weight for 5 months on the Te Araroa is under 15 pounds.
I had 25 ounces at a rolling boil in about four minutes.
I had 25 ounces at a rolling boil on my 3 ounce stove in about 4 minutes.
What I lack in experience, I make up with enthusiasm.
What I lack in experience, I make up with enthusiasm.
The Hammock Gear quilt looks like a prop from
A quilt opens beneath you and puts the down feathers on top. where you need them.
When in doubt, make a fool of yourself.
It's said that people fear public speaking - and looking ridiculous - more than death.
Walking is good for you.
Walking is good for you – and for the creative mind – as so many composers were fully aware of.
The great philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wants us to be wanderers, “though not as a traveler to a final destination: for this destination does not exist.”
If you arrive at a final destination, it’s a sign that you’ve set your sights too low.
The Blissful Hiker packs her ultralight gear for New Zealand.
The Blissful Hiker Alison Young packs ultralight gear to ready to go to New Zealand.
It’s less 'seize the day' at this point then let it happen and be present while it does.
In late October, I said goodbye and set off for the other side of the world.
Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of New Zealand
After 3 flights, and 36 hours of travel, I start the hike, falling asleep to crashing waves at Twilight.
Rain passes through at Scott Point above Ninety Mile Beach, a relentless expanse of sand walked for three solid days.
Following the stairs down from Scott Point, the Blissful Hiker begins the Ninety Mile Beach.
Spirula or Ram's horn shell on Ninety Mile Beach.
Awakened by wild horses, the Blissful Hiker heads back onto the long, lonely Ninety Mile Beach.
Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of New Zealand
After 36 hours of travel, I arrived in New Zealand and started hiking right away.
Blow Carting near Ahipara.
On the final day walking the Ninety Mile Beach, the wind changes and brings blow carts my way.
Friend of a friend of a friend, Peter, holds up a manuka branch just before we enter the New Zealand bush.
Tuis, bell birds, roots and mud – the deepest I've seen in my entire life – in the Raetea Forest.
There's nothing like putting wet and muddy shoes on in the morning.
The mud continues until the bush abruptly ends at rolling hills headed toward more bush.
Kauri bark has a hammer-mark texture and continuously sheds its outer bark in large scales to prevent climbing or perching plants from gaining a permanent hold.
A long walk through the Puketi forest takes me past manuka honey bees and a kauri forest.